Mellon Grant to Benefit Phillips Museum, Curriculum

  • Artist-in-Residence R. Scott Wright discusses a piece of art during the Cleve Gray reception at the Phillips Museum of Art in 2008. A $500,000 grant from The Mellon Foundation will enhance the museum's role in teaching, learning and research at the College.

The Phillips Museum of Art has long been a place for Franklin & Marshall College to showcase its permanent collection of art, exhibitions from contemporary artists and the creative works of students and faculty members. Thanks to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, it also will become a pillar of the College's curriculum.

The Mellon Foundation has awarded the College a $500,000 grant to solidify the museum's connection to the academic program and to increase student and faculty use of the museum's resources. The grant is designed to augment the museum's support of the College's educational objectives and to create new opportunities for collaboration among students, faculty members and museum staff.

"The grant will bring a lot of academic energy into the museum," says Eliza Reilly, director of the Phillips Museum. "We want to increase exhibition-based pedagogy and enhance the museum's role in teaching, learning and research at the College."

Reilly worked closely with Ryan Sauder, director of corporate and foundation relations, and Sam Houser, secretary of the College and executive assistant to the president, on crafting the successful proposal to Mellon. The proposal outlines a series of objectives for F&M and the Phillips Museum over a four-year period:

  • Upgrade the current curatorial position from approximately half time to full time;
  • Provide for the establishment of interdisciplinary visiting artist/faculty/postdoctoral fellowships that will focus on the intersection of the visual arts with other disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences; and
  • Facilitate two museum-focused pre-baccalaureate positions and a similarly focused post-baccalaureate internship annually.

The post- and pre-baccalaureate positions are intended to deepen research opportunities for students, Reilly says. Postdoctoral fellows will be selected for their ability to use the College's collection for teaching, learning and research.

"Exhibition-based teaching and learning are central to the mission of any college museum," says Reilly, who looks forward to the continued use of the museum's classroom space by students and faculty members.

In addition to the grant-funded initiatives, the College will fund annual faculty summer seminars to introduce faculty from all departments to the ways in which the museum can support innovative teaching and student-faculty research.

The grant also will benefit the College's efforts to seek accreditation of the Phillips Museum by the American Association of Museums, marking a significant step forward for the arts at F&M.

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